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DISCOURSE XXIII.

UPON

MATTHEW XVI. 26.

What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in ex

change for his soul? In the 24th verse, our Saviour urges his disciples to that necessary duty of denying themselves; that is, of surrendering up their wills to the conduct of his, and renouncing all their worldly interest, when it comes in competition with their duty, and of taking up

their cross and following him ; that is, of preparing themselves to endure persecution for his sake, and to persist courageously in the profession and practice of his religion, whatsoever oppositions they should meet with from the world. And to press them hereunto, he urges this argument, verse 25, For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life shall find it. Where the Greek word tuxh, which we render life, may perhaps be better rendered himself, it being familiar both with Hebrews and Syrians, to call a man's life and soul himself: so the Psalmist, Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, that is, Thou shalt not leave

, me perishing in my grave, Psalm xvi. 10: and Levit. xx. 25, Ye shall not make your souls abominable, i. e. yourselves ; and that it should be so rendered here is evident, because St. Luke so expounds it, What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away ? Luke ix. 25. And indeed the soul, being the principal part of a man, and that which advances him into a species of being above that of a mere animal, may very well be called himself, according to that of Hierocles, συ γαρ εί η ψυχή, το δε σώμα σου, τα δε έκTÒS TOũ cámaras. “ Thy soul is thee, thy body thine,

του σώματος. “ and thy outward goods thy body's.” And if, instead of life, we render yoxò himself, the words will be very plain and easy ; For whosoever will save himself by renouncing me and my religion, shall lose himself for ever; and whosoever will be content to lose himself for my sake, shall save himself for ever. And this he farther enforces in the text, What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? that is, What will it avail a man to gain the whole world, if he for ever ruin himself by it? and when he hath thus ruined him. self, what would he give, if it were in his power, to save and recover himself again? The words thus explained, I shall resolve the sense of them into these five propositions:

I. That a man, or the soul of a man, is a thing of inestimable price and value; for our Saviour here weighs it against the whole world, that is, against all the pleasures, profits, and honours that this inferior world can afford; and declares that, in the just balance of his esteem, it outweighs them all. And certainly that must needs be exceeding precious, whose worth the whole world cannot counterpoise.

II. That this precious soul may be lost. This our Saviour plainly supposes in these words, if he lose his own soul.

III. That our renouncing of Christ and his religion will most certainly infer this loss. For these words, as I have shewed you, our Saviour urges as an argument to dissuade men from apostasy ; but if without losing our souls we might renounce him, and apostatize from him, there would be no force in all this argument to dissuade us from it.

IV. That when this soul is lost, it is lost irrecoverably. What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Where the Greek word årtárdaqua, which we render exchange, is used in the same sense with ekidaoua, which signifies a price of redemption, denoting that if a man should or could give never so much to buy his soul from perdition, yet no price of redemption will be taken for it.

V. That this irrecoverable loss of a soul is of such a vast moment, that the gain of the whole world is not sufficient to compensate it.

What is a man profited, that is, he is not at all profited; nay, he is so far from that, that he is a vast loser.

I. That the soul of a man is a thing of an inestimable price and value. And for the proof of this proposition I shall endeavour these two things.

First, To represent to you of what vast worth it is, in respect of its own natural capacities.

Secondly, To shew you of what vast esteem it is, in the judgment of all those, who, as we must needs suppose, do best understand the worth of it.

1. I shall endeavour to represent to you of what vast worth it is, in respect of its own natural capacities; particularly in these four. 1. In respect of its capacity of understanding. 2. Of moral perfection.' 3. Of pleasure and delight. 4. Of immortality.

1. The soul of man is of vast worth in respect of its capacity of understanding. For certainly, to understand is the greatest and noblest operation that a being is capable of; for it is this that gives beauty and excellence to all our other operations, whether they be natural or moral : it is this that proposes the ends, and directs the course, and prescribes the measures of all our other actions; and though we had never so much forcę or power, yet unless we had understanding to guide and manage it, it would be altogether insignificant: for blind power acts at random; and if we had the force of a whirlwind, yet

; without a mind to steer and manage it, it would be an equal chance whether we did well or ill with it: so that unless there were some understanding, either within or without us, to conduct our active powers, and determine them to our good, we were as good be altogether without them; because while they act by chance, it is at least an equal lay whether they will injure or advantage us.

Since therefore understanding is the rule and measure of all our other powers, it necessarily follows, that itself is the greatest and noblest of them all. What an excellent being therefore must a soul be, in which this great and sovereign power resides! a power that can collect into itself such prodigious numbers of simple apprehensions, and, by comparing one with the other, can connect them into true propositions, and upon each of these can run such long and curious descants of discourse, till it hath drawn out all their consequents into a chain of wise and coherent notions, and sorted these into such various systems of useful arts and sciences : that can discern the harmonious contextures of truths with truths, the secret links

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